Ched Evans: some thoughts on his possible return to professional football

09/10/2014

We understand that Ched Evans, who was jailed for rape in April 2012, may be released as soon as this Saturday. We are disappointed that the Chief Executive of the PFA, Gordon Taylor, has made a public statement supporting Evans’ return to professional football. Rob Freeman wrote this article for issue 6 of our printed fanzine which will be published on 18 October 2014, but he’s kindly allowed us to post it here first.

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Image available under Creative Commons © faungg (Flickr)

 

Sometime this month around the publication of the next issue of the Turnstile Blues fanzine, Ched Evans is due for parole, after being jailed in 2012 after being found guilty of raping a woman in a Premier Inn in Rhyl. Fans of many clubs – including Ipswich – have taken to social media to proclaim Evans’s innocence. Many have taken their views on the case exclusively from two sources – one, being the fact that Clayton McDonald was found not guilty, while Evans was found guilty, the other being the official website set up by his family and friends in order to proclaim his innocence.

In the first instance, the reason why one man was found not guilty, and the second man found guilty was because the victim was alone with McDonald for long enough for her to have given consent, yet Evans never spoke to the victim until after she was at the hotel, after the point at which the hotel porter had stated at the trial she was intoxicated. The Crown Prosecution Service website refers to consent as: “In R v Bree [2007] EWCA 256, the Court of Appeal explored the issue of capacity and consent, stating that, if, through drink, or for any other reason, a complainant had temporarily lost her capacity to choose whether to have sexual intercourse, she was not consenting, and subject to the defendant’s state of mind, if intercourse took place, that would be rape.” McDonald and Evans were separated, at which point McDonald and the victim took a taxi to the hotel. As the victim’s condition is unknown at time when she is alone with McDonald (but evidence given at the trial such as text messages sent around this time, suggests she had a fairly normal level of coherence), there is time for her consent, and therefore, enough doubt for a jury to find McDonald not guilty. As there is a witness to her condition deteriorating prior to the first time she speaks to Evans (they had met earlier in the evening but not spoken), and Evans confirmed at the trial that he had sex with the victim, the jury had little option but to find him guilty.

The second source of information – some would say misinformation – is the Evans website. The website itself is a classic example of rape culture and victim blaming. References to social media comments made five months after the rape suggesting that she was going to “win big”, and criticisms of rape charities (“They should not allow Cheds (sic) return to his chosen profession become a distraction from the good work they do”). There are references to her behaviour in order to make her sound fully coherent, while at the same time highlighting behaviour that some would find unsavoury. The victim’s behaviour shows signs similar to that of someone who has been spiked (going from coherence to appearing intoxicated in a short amount of time, and the subsequent inability to remember what had happened while appearing intoxicated), but as most drugs used to spike drinks disappear relatively quickly from the system, nothing was found in her system, when she was tested the next day. That said, as Evans had no opportunity to speak to the victim, he had no opportunity to spike her drink. If Evans is released, the question of whether he should be re-employed by Sheffield United – or another club – has been raised, with many arguments being raised in favour and against.

Many have an unease with someone convicted of such a crime shouldn’t have the ability to earn thousands of pounds a week on release – these arguments were also put forward when Marlon King (sexual assault and assault), Lee Hughes and Luke McCormick (death by dangerous driving) were released from prison after committing their respective crimes.

The main argument for, is that as he has paid his debt to society. After all, if a factory worker was to be released, we would want them to return to their career, as part of their rehabilitation, and re-integration into society. However, if Evans is released in October 2014, he won’t have repaid his debt to society – he will instead be serving the second half of his sentence on licence.

As the website proclaiming Evans’ innocence says: “Any individual convicted of a criminal offence should be allowed to return to their profession as part of their rehabilitation, with the exception of certain circumstances where they pose a risk to others”. It is fair to say that an unrepentant convicted rapist poses a risk to women just by being free in the first place, and when you consider that footballers are also expected to perform work within the community – especially those footballers who are in need of rehabilitation. However, Evans’s supporters feel he should resume his career where he left off, to the point of criticising the charity Rape Crisis for questioning whether an unrepentant convicted rapist should return to a highly paid high-profile career. However, this is part of Rape Crisis’s remit. The vast majority of rape victims suffer with flashbacks, and these are often triggered by references in the media to rape, and references to Evans continuing a high-profile career is going to see him referred to as a convicted rapist, and even if he isn’t the mention of his name may trigger a traumatic memory in a rape victim. And it is for those reasons, rather than how much money he may or may not earn that makes me believe that he should not be allowed to return to football.

For many, the question isn’t whether Evans should be re-employed by Sheffield United, or any other club. While Evans continues to deny his guilt, many would argue that he should not be released on parole at all. There are suggestions that, because he still maintains his innocence (he made a third submission for an appeal in July this year), he may not be released – other people in this situation (most notably, the Birmingham Six) have been refused parole because a condition of parole is that you must admit your guilt before you can be released. After all, in the eyes of the law, you cannot be rehabilitated if you are unrepentant. When dealing with offences such as rape, the Sexual Offenders Treatment Programme requires the prisoners concerned to give a full and frank account of their crime – although this programme doesn’t apply to prisoners going through the appeal process. Majority owner and former chairman of Blackpool FC, Owen Oyston had parole refused while he served a sentence for rape because he refused to admit his guilt. In his case, he appealed to the High Court, which ruled that the Parole Board had ruled unlawfully in his case, however other parole cases have continued to be refused for the same reason.

 


Roy Keane Ha Ha Ha (or The Snapper)

07/10/2014

 

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Roy Keane has written about his time at Portman Road. Susan Gardiner took a quick look and these are her first impressions.

I did wonder whether Roy Keane would say very much about Ipswich Town in his new autobiography, The Second Half, co-written with Irish novelist, Roddy Doyle. I enjoyed his previous book with Eamon Dunphy (with whom he later fell out. Obviously.) and I felt some sympathy with him when he came to Ipswich – here’s a man who will never be able to build a career away from the cameras, journos and their tiresome ringing mobile phones, and keyboard warriors high on male pheronomes – but that has been severely strained by a quick glance at the relevant chapter of the new book. Given that I don’t have the context of the entire book, it wouldn’t be fair to comment too much on Keane, the man – although it’s hard not to.

It’s quite obvious that Keane regards his whole time at Portman Road as a mistake. He claims that he and Ipswich were a “bad fit” and the omens were there from the start: hardly anyone came to his first training session which was open to the public, he says. Oh, and he hates blue: “I don’t like fuckin’ blue. City were blue. Rangers were blue. My biggest rivals were blue? Is that childish?”

Yes, Roy. It is.

I’m quite glad that I was unaware of that level of irrationality when he was our manager. Although this book was written with hindsight, it’s a curious method of self-justification and that particular bit doesn’t ring true. I wonder why he says it. It’s not particularly edifying. He goes on: “I couldn’t feel it. Me and the club. I get annoyed now, thinking that. I should have been able to accept it.”

This is the tone of the section I’ve read: slightly regretful, mea culpa, I should have accepted the situation and have done my best with it. But I don’t buy it. It seems to me that, at Ipswich, he felt like Gloria Swanson, playing the ageing Hollywood star, Norma Desmond at the end of Sunset Boulevard (“I am big! It’s the pictures that got small.”) He moans about his office, “like a school prefab,” and it makes me long for the humility of an Alf Ramsey or the pragmatic cheeriness of a Bobby Robson (“good fits”).

The question springs to mind: why was Roy Keane appointed at all? What was in Marcus Evans’ mind when he (presumably) decided to sack Magilton and replace him with this man? Magilton was not doing particularly badly. In retrospect, it seems very harsh that he was sacked and, although we’re happy to have Mick McCarthy, I do wonder how well Magic Jim would have done, had he had the time to build a team. The only explanation that I can come up with for the arrival of Keane is “publicity.” And he definitely created huge opportunities for a certain grey and white logo to be displayed all over Britain’s press and TV screens.

Keane is certainly self-deprecating at times: “I made another mistake. I should have looked at the bigger picture.” He writes of what he describes as “the dreaded conversations with the owner” during the close season. It’s interesting to see that, for all his anonymity, Evans is not averse to interfering with managerial decision-making. Perhaps Town fans became too used to the completely hands-off approach that the Cobbolds took for decades, although it seemed to work for us. I was most surprised by the picture Keane draws of sitting with ME discussing tactics, with a tactics board. Perhaps this explains a lot:

ME: “Well, why can’t he play there?”

RK: “Because he’s this and he’s not that.”

ME: “Let’s go with the younger players.”

So, according to Keane’s book, he was told to go for youth rather than experience against his better judgement. “The average age of a promoted team is twenty-eight or twenty-nine.”

Keane puts the failure to recruit (33-year-old) Sean Derry firmly at the feet of the club. He wanted an experienced pro, which is understandable, but whether Derry was the right “fit,” we’ll never know. He’s respectful towards Town fans, says some kind words about Connor Wickham but what he says about some of his other players demonstrates an absence of rapport to say the least. When shaking their hands and wishing them luck going on to the pitch “sometimes I’d wonder what they were putting into my hand.”

He wanted to physically attack Pablo, and his bust-up with Walters is the stuff of legend (vomit selfie, anyone?) but what he says about selling Rhodes is interesting, at least to me because I always suspected that was a club decision rather than Keane’s and he confirms it.

Most interesting of all are his revelations about CEO Simon Clegg. And that there was never an occasion when he, Clegg and Evans were ever in “the same room together.” His comment on Clegg (“This is the face you have got”) being answerable to Marcus Evans rather than working with the manager rings true and it’s perhaps one thing that we can be sympathetic with Keane about.

While I find him surprisingly unanalytical and lacking in self-awareness (that ego gets in the way too often), I think he’s right about not being a good fit with this club. I despair that he compares us unfavourably to Sunderland and even more when reading these words: “Chris Kiwomya was there, and Bryan Klug, and Steve McCall was the chief scout. They’d all played for Ipswich. It has the feel of a family club that didn’t need breaking up. But that was exactly what it needed.”

Ultimately, it was the wrong appointment at the wrong time and for questionable reasons. Keane clearly found it onerous to “discuss mobile phones for hours” when Wickham has been thrown out of his digs. I was struck by the comparison with our great managers of the past, Ramsey and Robson, who patiently performed far more menial administrative tasks for the club and had a genius for good relationships with their players and other staff, well documented elsewhere. As Kevin Beattie recalled of Bobby Robson: “It didn’t matter if you were the best player in the team or the worst player, he treated you the same and got the best out of you. He could make an average player into a good player and a good player into a great player. It was uncanny ability and that made him stand out as a manager. Wherever he went, he seemed to get the best out of his players. I know at Ipswich, we all just wanted to play for him.”

Roy Keane wasn’t blessed with players of the ability of Beattie, Mariner, Wark or Mills, and it’s arguable that things may have been different if he’d had a different kind of owner and chief executive to deal with. In many ways, Keane was a symptom of the changes made to our club’s character in recent years rather than the cause of our problems. Let’s hope that in Mick McCarthy we now have someone able to deal with that, yet retain respect for the nature of our club.

 

The Second Half by Roy Keane and Roddy Doyle (Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2014). Borrow it from your local public library, they need your support.


Book review: The A-Z of Football Hates

06/10/2014

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I was tempted to begin this review of The A-Z of Football Hates by Richard Foster (Amberley, 2014) by stating that books of alphabetical lists would come near to the top of my own inventory of “hates,” but I was quickly won over by the author’s introduction, particularly his description of the Chester fan, Steve, who hates watching home matches, an interesting – if slightly problematic – kind of cross for a football supporter to bear.

The abominations that have been chosen by Richard Foster, from an original long list of 87, are probably shared by the majority of fans: agents, corporate hospitality, diving, naming rights, (Mexican) waves, and xenophobia would all be on my personal list should I ever compile one. I would have included “banter,” though, which in my opinion is one of the worst aspects of the modern game of all. Of course, the whole point of a book like this is that there will be as much to disagree with as there is to confirm one’s own prejudices. That’s all part of the fun – and the book is fun. It’s written with a light touch that shrugs off some of its strengths, such as the quality of the writing and research. I learned quite a few things from reading it – from snippets about the early history of agents to the rather pleasing fact that the first footballer in the English game to wear tights was a Leicester City player in 1979.

It’s a book that seems intended, above all, to provoke debate and discussion and I’m pleased to say that I found much to disagree with in it, as I’m sure everyone else who reads it will. Although I can quite believe that players’ PR advisers might encourage them to flourish their children in front of the cameras for all kinds of dubious reasons, I don’t feel as cynical about children and football as the author does. I love to see footballers celebrating with their families when they’ve won trophies and I particularly like to see my own team parade their little ones around Portman Road at the end of the season. Foster finds it schmaltzy but I think that some footballers might actually like their own kids enough to want to share the pleasure of their best moments in football with them. On the other hand, I agree with him that FIFA’s insistence on players each holding hands with a mascot when walking on to the pitch for an international is execrable.

I’m not sure, either, about his description of his ideal club owner: “rich, anonymous and kind-hearted. Just imagine a wealthy philanthropist who was publicity shy… ” I have a particular figure in mind, of course, and I’m in no doubt that a club owner should not be able to hide from the people whose club he or she is supposed to be looking after. I suppose a book that is essentially against things doesn’t have to put the world to rights, but it would have been good if the piece about Ownership had made at least a passing reference to what fans are doing for themselves at clubs like Exeter, FCUM, AFC Wimbledon and Portsmouth.

He devotes an entire “hate” to John Westwood of Pompey and his bell, a decision with which I can wholeheartedly concur. If there’s ever a follow-up edition, I can also recommend that the person who used to play a musical air horn at Portman Road repetitively in the 1970s should receive similar recognition. That horn still blights Ipswich Town DVDs to this day.

There are some contradictions. The author admits “I cried again twenty years on from those first tears” when England were knocked out of the world cup in 1990, despite claiming “Crying” and open displays of masculine emotion to be one of his pet hates. Perhaps – like the Player Queen in Hamlet – Richard Foster protests too much. In fact, I suspect him of really enjoying many of the things he claims to hate. He is clearly enjoying himself far too much in the section on Haircuts – and indeed, which football fan has not taken pleasure in the maniacally coiffeured player? Although I was sad not to find either of my personal favourites, Sue Smith and Taribo West, in the book there are plenty of other examples.

I was afraid that this book might be a football version of Grumpy Old Men but it would be better described by the popular Twitter hashtag: “Against Modern Football.” Most of the things that Richard Foster hates have come into the game in the post-Sky TV era. Television coverage, enormous advertising revenue and vast wealth have altered the game, and in turn have created huge distinctions between clubs with the Premier League having the lion’s share of the spoils in this country. These are the things that are at the root of almost all of the “hates,” whether they are TV directors homing in on the faces of crying fans or goal celebrations designed especially for the cameras.

A pleasing aspect of the book is the contributions of both supporters and former footballers. I particularly enjoyed Pat Nevin, who with typical originality and intelligence decided that what he hates the most is hatred. I think most people would agree. For all the controversy about things like the music played over stadia PA systems or “French football shorts,” this is the worst thing about football and changing things for the better is – unlike most of the other execrations listed in the book – in the hands of the fans themselves. The section on Qatar 2022 is excellent and it conveys some important issues about FIFA’s hypocrisy in the face of human rights abuses. Human rights and global corporatism may not fit all that well into a book that is essentially about mocking the wearing of yellow boots or “plastic fans” but without the serious issues, it would merely be enjoyably trivial. It’s more than that and all the better for it.

The author concludes by saying that it hopes it will enable its readers to release some “pent-up emotions.” I’m not sure about that. For me, watching a football match itself is the most cathartic thing of all. However, if The A-Z of Football Hates was intended to be entertaining and thought-provoking, it has certainly succeeded very well.

Susan Gardiner

 

 


Wrong place, right time: Blofield United Reserves vs Freethorpe, Non-league Day 2014

08/09/2014

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Emma Corlett ventured into unknown territory on Saturday as it was Non-league Day. This is her report.

Non league day. We hardly ever get the chance to watch football together as a family.  I have a season ticket at Portman Road and my partner has a season ticket at Carrow Road.  Non league day provided the ideal opportunity to take our eight-year-old daughter to a game, without any underhand or subtle attempts to sway her one way or the other.

She’s an eight-year-old who hates mushrooms, so the lure of a free punnet of the things for everyone attending Bungay Town was never going to do it for her.  Lowestoft was tempting, but at the last minute we realised Norwich United were playing Ipswich Wanderers at 3pm.  Perfect.  Or it would have been if I hadn’t left it until the last minute, and relied upon  “the internet,” according to which Norwich United play at Plantation Park in Blofield.  So off we headed to Blofield – it’s a small village so how hard could it be to find?

Very, it turns out.  We still have no idea where Plantation Park is. But we saw a pitch with a match taking place, so went for that.  It was free to get in.  One team in yellow, one team in green *sighs*.  Blofield United Reserves (green) versus Freethorpe (yellow).  The match had kicked off at 2.30pm, and a quick count of both teams revealed that we’d missed a bit of action as Freethorpe had already had a player sent off.

The kiosk selling tea and sausage rolls was better staffed than match day at PR.  Tea, made in a pot was served with fresh milk in a proper mug for 50p.  Sausage rolls that looked like they had proper meat in them rather than the scrapings off an abattoir floor on offer at most football league grounds were £1. Oh, and you can drink within sight of the pitch from a patio outside the bar (selling cheap local real ale). Blofield 1

The half-time whistle blew just as we made it to the touchline, and we were informed that Blofield were winning 1-0.  Who needs half time entertainment when there are two children’s play areas to chose between?

So on to the second half.  The Freethorpe goal keeper was a bit gobby, and his inspiring words of encouragement included “pick ‘em up early,” “get some chat going, we’re too quiet,” and  “these lads are dog shit, let’s lift it”.  His motivational yelping paid off, and Freethorpe equalised on (about) 75 minutes with a brilliantly curled free kick from about 25 yards that dipped under the bar.

Apparently a rule change has this season allowed for rolling subs, so there was a fair bit of coming and going that was tricky to keep track of.  This also applied to who was running the line for Blofield.  A replacement lino approached the task in the slacker style.  When asked why he didn’t raise his flag to signify a throw in, he shouted back: “It was such an obvious decision I didn’t think I needed to bother”.  This prompted the ref to come over and check that he actually knew what he was doing.

A bold double substitution by the Blofield manager, resplendent in his proper manager’s coat, complete with initials, on around 80 minutes, paid off quickly, and Blofield scored what turned out to be the winner with a 12-yard skilful turn and low shot from their number 9 striker.

It all looked like a bit of a slog for most, and players heading the ball out of defence made grunting sounds more usually heard from the tennis stars at Wimbledon.  The pass completion rate was low, I suspect no more than 12%. Some clearly took it more seriously than others, and I wouldn’t have wanted to get in the way of the Freethorpe captain as he stormed off at the end, shirt in hand.

Blofield 3The attendance (as counted by me) was 72, plus 17 children and 1 dog. There was the customary ball stuck in tree incident, which was solved by kicking another football at the stuck ball, resulting of course in two balls stuck up tree. [Ed. The highlights of this incident can be watched here.]

I hear that the ‘respect’ agenda is heavily promoted at grass roots level football.  It wasn’t much in evidence today.  It would be quicker to list the players who didn’t call the referee a c*nt than those who did.  No one was booked for dissent, despite the steady flow of criticism directed at the referee throughout “ref watch the f*cking ball, you twat,” “ref, you’ve ruined this game, you better f*cking apologise to our players”.  Maybe he’d made a heinous decision for the first half sending off we’d missed, but he had a fairly uncontroversial game from my perspective.

It was fun though, the sun was shining and for me there is just something great about watching people running around playing football whatever the level.  For each wayward, out for a throw in pass, there was a little snippet of skill from someone. And the eight-year-old got to watch the game from the top of a climbing frame.

 

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Non-league Day on 6th September 2014

03/09/2014

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Gavin Barber would like you to think about going to watch some non-league football on Saturday – and we at Turnstile Blues agree.

This Saturday, 6th September, is Non-League Day. The idea is simple: the teams in the top two divisions aren’t playing, so if you’d normally be watching your team play in the Premier League or Championship, go to a local Non-League ground instead.

Or, just go to a game at a local Non-League ground because, well, because it’s fun.

The point of Non-League Day is not to be “worthy” or touristy, or even particularly serious. It’s about enjoyment: the simple pleasure of watching a football match because you want to watch a football match, not because it has a multi-million pound outcome riding on it. The pleasure of discovering a ground that you’ve never been to before – chances are it’ll have more trees than corporate hospitality tents. The pleasure of being able to have a beer while watching the game, and of hearing some new songs being sung.

There’s a serious side to it – grassroots football has massive social benefits: it enables people to participate and play and socialise, and provides community cohesion in these difficult times. So, it needs your support.

But that doesn’t mean that you have to wear your Guardian Columnist face on Non-League Day. Just turn up and enjoy it. Chances are, you’ll want to come back.

*     *     *     *     *

You can find a non-league fixture near to you by using the “Find A Match” function on the Non-League Day website. Whitton United and Woodbridge Town, for example, are both at home. Or if you fancy a Ryman League game you could head for Leiston United. And there’s some Conference North (yes, Conference North – I don’t make the rules up) action on the coast at Lowestoft Town.

Alternatively, download the Non-League Fixture Finder for your smartphone and let it work its location-based magic.

logoPhil Porter explains more about his Nonleague Fixture Finder app:
I’ve been attending nonleague football matches pretty regularly for a few years now. Last December during a period of wet weather a number of matches for my club – Cambridge City – were postponed and I started the hunt for other matches to attend.This was a more laborious process than it should have been. I couldn’t easily find a suitable website with all the nonleague fixtures displayed – and the official websites of the various nonleagues are hard to navigate and entirely separate. Further, none of them take any notice of my location to inform me what matches are close to me. It struck me that an iPhone app (I have an iPhone) could have taken the list of fixtures and displayed them in distance order from me. Surely someone had written one? No. They hadn’t. I’m not blessed with ideas that could be turned into interesting apps, but this one seemed promising. I’m technical enough to figure out how to write one. I’d also be an active user of the app, so I’d be able to tune it to show me exactly what I wanted and so I’d have a better idea of what should be in it than most other people. Finally the nonleague fixtures aren’t copyright, so I’d be able to create this app without the need to license them from the various leagues (an unofficial Football League app couldn’t be created for this reason). I’d be able to write an app (for a nerd like myself this seemed quite cool) and people may actually like having it! So I did.

It is in the Apple store now (http://www.tinyurl.com/NLFF-app).

It contains the fixtures for the top 4 steps (that’s 12 different leagues) of the nonleague pyramid, and sorts them by distance from where the user is. The fixtures can be displayed in a list or on a map and you can filter them by nonleague level and how far you want to travel.

A club directory is also provided showing complete fixture lists, ticket prices, address and a website link for each of the clubs in those 12 divisions.

 


Family entertainment

21/08/2014

 

Half Time

 After a short cessation of hostilities, the derby match is back at Portman Road this Saturday and we’re all excited about it – except for one thing…  by Susan Gardiner

Embarrassing relatives. We’ve all got them.

Whether it’s an uncle who makes off-colour jokes and is a little too free with his hands or the aunt who only drinks on Christmas Day and, after two sherries, insists everyone watches a war film instead of the great comedy show on the other channel, then promptly falls asleep and starts snoring at seismic levels… OK, this analogy might be getting a bit too personal.

I feel like that about some of my fellow Town fans sometimes. We all have the same interests at heart, but – naturally enough – have different views about how to go about achieving our aims. We argue, we fight, we agree to differ, it doesn’t last long, we argue again… . It was ever thus. In many ways, it’s that kind of thing that makes football supporters comparable to a real family, rather than the trite, happy-clappy, “football family” of the clichés that are trotted out by the media, Barclays ads and football club PR departments.

Perhaps the rivalry between the two major East Anglian clubs is a bit like a confrontation between the Montagues and the Capulets in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, except that fortunately, for the most part, the sword fighting has been replaced by verbal abuse and bragging in musical form.

This is clearly an improvement, and anyway the police will no doubt deal with anyone on either side who allows the rivalry to spill over into anything worse. However, there are aspects of some of the chanting that Ipswich fans aim at their rivals that aren’t acceptable. If they ever were acceptable – and I doubt it – they aren’t any longer. Stuart Hellingsworth wrote about that, with particular reference to the appalling Justin Fashanu song. I don’t know any Ipswich Town supporter who isn’t embarrassed and ashamed about that being sung and I hope that I never hear it at Portman Road again. It does, of course, contravene the law and our own club rules and anyone caught singing it will, quite rightly, be thrown out of the ground and banned.

There’s another song that crosses the line of acceptability though, and one of the Turnstile Blues group unfortunately heard about twenty fans singing it in the North Stand in the match against Fulham recently. It’s the one about Delia. I’m not going to quote the words as they’re well known. The objection here isn’t to “bad language” though. The issue is that people are singing a song that is intended to be offensive about the Norwich City “joint majority shareholder” (that’s what she’s officially called and that is silly. Perhaps someone could come up with a song?) They’re singing it for one reason alone, because she’s a woman. Whatever our views on Delia, her gender isn’t really relevant and shouldn’t be an issue. The only conclusion that anyone can reluctantly come to is that the song is sung because there’s a – hopefully small – element in the Ipswich Town fan base that is sexist and/or misogynistic and this is a manifestation of it.

Football has grown up a lot over the last few decades, but it’s quite clear from the revelations about TV presenters Richard Keys and Andy Gray, Richard Scudamore, the Chief Executive of the Premier League, no less and – as recently as yesterday – allegations about former Cardiff City manager (and Norwich player), Malky Mackay, that there’s still a long way to go. Recent advertising campaigns by The Football Paper, and Conference sponsors, Vanarama, are depressing in their out-dated attitude to women. It all seems to be based on an outmoded view that “lad culture” is the norm and that this kind of thing appeals to most football supporters. That’s as insulting to men as it is to women when you think about it.

Look around most football grounds now and you’ll see lots of women, you’ll see families, you’ll see men with daughters (and sons) who don’t want to hear things like the Delia song.

It’s disappointing that sexism and misogynistic behaviour don’t seem to be taken as seriously as racism and homophobia, but it’s just as bad. Denigrating someone because of what they are rather than who they are, or because of a stereotype, is exactly the kind of thing that leads to worse: hatred, abuse, violence. Denigrating someone just because they’re female, apart from being quite weird and ridiculous, is pernicious.

We’re all hoping to see our status as the Pride of Anglia restored on Saturday. Whatever the result, let’s hope that the most embarrassing members of the ITFC family stay at home or keep their malignant songs to themselves.

You can report any offensive chanting or language using the Kick It Out app or the club’s STAMP IT OUT text number 07834 439429.

 

 


Postcript on Cat. 1

27/07/2014
by Gavin Barber
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After our article was published on Friday, Bryan Klug and Simon Milton gave interviews to the local press, which related to some of the topics that we’d raised. Simon Milton, in particular, was keen to emphasise, when quoted on Those Were The Days that the club’s owner would be making up the shortfall in funding as a result of the failure to gain category 1 status, in order to fund the Academy at a full rate. We hope this happens and in particular we hope that the Academy will be resourced as a priority for the football club – including facilities and staffing. We trust that existing staffing levels will be maintained.

Bryan Klug gave the EADT some feedback on why the club had been unsuccessful in its bid for category 1 status. His frustration was clear and we hope that the club learn lessons from what happened, in order to ensure the outcome that everyone wants – a Category One Academy for Ipswich Town.

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